Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The Turks and Caicos Islands joins countries worldwide in celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness month during the month of October to help increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease.
There are about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer each year. Breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide in both developed and developing countries. Therefore, raising awareness and understanding about breast cancer risks, early signs and symptoms and overall breast health is an important part of our public health approach. Most deaths occur due to late diagnosis.
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/bringyourbrave/breast_cancer_young_women/) About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age. Approximately 90 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed at the end of 2017 in the Turks and Caicos this includes 8 new cases.
According to Mrs. Rosemary Jolly, President of the Cancer Society, the walk to bring more awareness to breast cancer was a huge success with over 500 persons walking for various reasons. A significant number of young people walked. Events planned by the Cancer Society continue throughout the month of October. Mrs. Jolly stated; “We need to educate our young people and young men need to realize that not only women get breast cancer.” Mrs. Jolly also represents the Cancer Society on the National Non- Communicable Disease Committee attached to the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit within the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services. The Ministry continues to support and collaborate with the Cancer Society and congratulate the society on their efforts to bring awareness of Cancer to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Ministry of Health has developed guidelines for breast cancer screening and have also increased its awareness activities as it relates to prevention and early detection. The Ministry of Health is also seeking to develop a National Cancer Registry as well as embark on the STEPS survey which will evidence based information to develop more targeted interventions.
Things you should know: -
- If you are over 40, consider getting a mammogram. Early detection of breast cancer has the best chance for a cure.
- Don’t put off screening because of discomfort or fear of the results, a mammogram should never be painful. To lessen discomfort, try to plan the exam after your monthly period, when breast tissue is less sensitive.
- Know your risk, if you have family members who have had breast cancer, especially a mother or sister, tell your doctor, because your own risk of cancer may be higher than average. High risk women may be recommended for annual MRI in addition to a screening mammogram.
- For all women, follow a healthy lifestyle and keep your weight in normal range.
- For young women, breast-feed your babies for as long as possible. Women who breast-feed their babies for at least a year have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
- For postmenopausal women, avoid hormone replacement therapy. Menopausal hormone therapy increases risk for breast cancer. If you must take hormones to manage menopausal symptoms, avoid those that contain progesterone and limit their use to less than three years.
- Know the symptoms- They are different and some people have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms can include—
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
- A new lump in the breast or underarm.
- If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.
The Minister of Health, Agriculture and Human Services encourages all women to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to their health. For more information, contact the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit on 338 2772.